Shropshire Star

Pair carved 'vulnerable' man's head and threw darts at him in 'Tarantino-style horror film' attack

Two men who carried out a prolonged "Tarantino-style horror film" attack on a vulnerable man have been jailed for a total of 16-and-a-half years.

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During the "humiliating and degrading" 12-hour attack the victim had four teeth removed with a metal bar, had a name carved on his forehead with a Stanley blade and had darts thrown at him.

He had also been stripped naked, had a plastic bag put over his head, a sock stuffed into his mouth so he could not call out, and was tied up at his flat in Llanidloes, Powys.

Mold Crown Court on Thursday heard that the attack was led by 37-year-old Wayne Butler, and his co-defendant Stephen Dixon, aged 51, joined in the "vicious and sadistic attack" on Matthew Williams.

The court heard that the sustained attack lasted from 3.30am to 5pm on July 17, 2023. It had been sparked after Butler had flown into a drug-fuelled rage after he found his girlfriend passed out in the bath after a drugs overdose.

He had assumed that the victim had "taken advantage of her", the court heard.

Butler, formerly of Ruabon, and Dixon, formerly of Llanidloes, sat together behind a desk on a video link from HMP Berwyn as the court went through the sentencing procedures.

Bald-headed Butler sat with his tattooed arms crossed in a grey t-shirt for most of the hearing, occasionally shaking his head and talking to his co-defendant.

Dixon, a slightly-built clean-shaven man, shifted between having his arms in a praying position and holding them by his side, and sat in a blue rugby-style shirt before donning a warmer coat.

Both men disconnected from the video link after judge His Honour Rhys Rowlands handed down his sentence.

Judge Rowlands said the attack was a "vicious and sadistic attack on a vulnerable man in his own home".

He drew a distinction between the "leading" role taken by Butler, who cut the victim's head with the blade, and the lesser role played by Dixon.

But he said Dixon had joined in by "spitting ammonia" and throwing darts at his head and legs, and by going out for bandages which the pair used to tie up their victim during the attack.

Judge Rowlands said Butler had shown "unbelievable cruelty" to his victim and departed from sentencing guidelines to brand him as a "danger to the public" as he handed down a 15-year sentence, with 10-and-a-half of those being spent in prison and four and a half years on licence.

The court heard that Butler had a long history of offences to his name, including of dishonesty, violence, drug use, breaches of court orders, wounding, robbery, and two assaults on police officers. He had served prison sentences before.

Dixon, who was described by the judge as being "frightened" of his co-defendant, was handed an immediate prison sentence of six years. He had a limited history of offences, the court heard.

The judge reduced both Butler and Dixon's sentences by a quarter as they had pleaded guilty and avoided the need to call their vulnerable victim to give evidence in a trial.

Judge Rowlands said that because he thought Butler was "dangerous" and posed a "high risk of causing physical harm to others in future" and Dixon was not dangerous but posed a "high risk of harm" he departed from the sentencing guidelines to reflect that.

Both men had been charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent and false imprisonment.

Judge Rowlands told Butler: "You pose a significant risk to members of the public."

Prosecutor John Wyn Williams described the events of July 17 as like a "Tarantino horror film".

"It was a vicious and sadistic attack in a flat that had been rented to the victim by Dixon.

"They detained their victim for 12 hours, stripped him naked and humiliated him against his will. His teeth were pulled out with a metal bar.

"Butler blamed Williams for his girlfriend's drug overdose."

Mr Williams said the "prolonged torture" was only ended after police were called at 3.40pm on the day.

"If the police had not been called, Mr Williams believes he would have been killed."

Butler, a drug user, was described as the "primary aggressor" while Dixon was called an "alcoholic", by the prosecutor.

"Butler came into his victim's flat at 3.30am with his angry mouth foaming with spit and [the victim] was kicked to the head, face and body.

"He had a plastic bag put over his head, and darts thrown at him, and a door hinge was used to remove his teeth.

"Butler used a blade to carve the name in his victim's forehead."

The court heard three victims' statements, from Mr Williams, his 70 year-old mother and his brother, who had seen photos of his injured brother along with demands for money.

The victim had been unable to leave his house except for hospital treatment, and suffered regular nightmares where the incident was repeated in his mind.

He has anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and had found it "difficult to replace the four teeth" and found it "almost impossible to eat anything hard".

The victim's mother was "upset and worried to leave her house" and his brother had been "scared" by the incident and had been sent pictures of his brother.

Oliver King, mitigating for Butler, said his client knew he would receive a long sentence but had pleaded guilty.

"He did not cynically drag his feet to call the victim's bluff," he said.

"Butler had regarded Williams as a mate but had found [his girlfriend] overdosed in the bath and thought he had taken advantage of her.

"When he drinks he is capable of acting in this way."

Mr King said Butler had been one of 16 children.

"His sister also overdosed and in 2006 she was in a coma and her life support was not continued. He was close to her and her death broke him."

Butler had also been a victim of a sustained attack while an inmate at HMP Swansea, he added.

Mr King said the victim had not suffered a "grave or life-threatening" injury and there was "no evidence that he needed third party care".

"Harm is not irreversible and there was no permanent or irreversible injury."

He added that Butler "disengages" from help when he is in mental health crisis but he has gained qualifications in maths, English and IT.

Myles Wilson, mitigating for Dixon, said his client had a "very different role".

"Butler was the prime mover and there is a case to justify a different length of sentence for Dixon," he said.

The judge said both men were sentenced for grievous bodily harm with intent, with no separate penalty handed down for false imprisonment, which was instead treated as an aggravating factor.

Judge Rowlands said physical harm to the victim was not "permanent or irreversible" and the serious psychological harm was "not marked" but he could receive dental treatment to fix his teeth.

From that he concluded that the offence was not treated in the top category.

But he said false imprisonment of the victim meant that it was in the "interests of justice to move beyond the sentencing guidelines".

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